When it comes to picking a sofa, consider the color palette of your room. It will help you refine the color choices of your upholstered furniture. Photo courtesy of Klaussner Home Furnishings
Sofas and chairs that recline are an excellent solution for creating a comfy family room, and were ultimately Deanna's choice for her home. Photo courtesy of Lane Home Furnishings
If you don't want an ottoman, or don't have the space for one, consider a motion (reclining) sofa. Photo courtesy of Lane Home Furnishings
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Shopper’s Journal: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sofa
A first-hand account of how this consumer used HomeFurnishings.com to find the ideal seating for her family room.
- by Deanna L. Thompson
On the day my oldest son graduated from high school, our family room sofa graduated too. Who knows what happened that night as kids played video games and celebrated the end of high school—but the sofa bed’s bent metal frame the next morning made the end result clear: Our 20-year-old sleeper sofa was graduating to the landfill as soon as I had a replacement.
Did I cry or complain? No, I celebrated. Finally, I got to choose a new sofa for our family room! Of course, I was suddenly daunted by the many options before me and realized I needed to do a little research. Fortunately, I had all the tools at HomeFurnishings.com I needed—from style inspiration to space planning to shopping tips—to make my new purchase. If you, too, have a furniture purchase in your future, follow me on my search for the perfect sofa, and see what I end up with ... and pick up some tips along the way!
The search begins.
Step 1: Gather Ideas
I sit down at my laptop and log on to HomeFurnishings.com. I need ideas. Because this is a family room used by teenagers and pets, I know an easy-care fabric and comfortable seating are tops on my list. But what style of sofa do I want? Contemporary, transitional or traditional? Would a sectional be a better option? What about a reclining sofa? Or should I choose a sleeper sofa again for extra guests? In the “Get Inspired” section of the website, I click the “See” area, zero in on “Living Areas” and “Couches/Sofas” and watch a slide show of options from high fashion to comfy-cozy. I peruse articles in the categories of “Living Areas,” “Design Challenges,” “Sofas & Chairs” and “Fabric & Textiles” in the “Discover” and “Learn” sections of HomeFurnishings.com. I save the articles in the “My Ideas” folder on the site so that I can refer back to them later.
Now that I have certain styles in mind, I need to decide what type of sofa I’ll be buying (Motion? Sleeper?) Back online, I read stories on shopping for a sofa in the “Learn” section. For years, we’ve had a sleeper sofa in the family room for extra guests. But thinking back on how often we’ve used it recently, I vote “no” on the sleeper sofa. So … will it be a stationary sofa or a reclining sofa? I decide to explore both as I shop.
Now I have a sense of which sofa style suits me best, but before I go further, I need to know: What kind of seating will fit best in my family room?
Step 2: Size up My Space
Using my husband’s tape measure, I gather measurements of the family room and its permanent features. This is not an easy space to decorate. I have a fireplace, built-in bookcases, a sliding glass door, a closet and a door to work around. I measure all of these details, because I know this job calls for help from the Room Planner.
Step 3: Space Planning
Back at HomeFurnishings.com, I open the Room Planner. After selecting the rectangular shape of my room, I use the templates at left to place the fireplace, doors and built-ins I measured, along with the lone window. I use the tools to resize them to my correct dimensions. I save this as my room plan template before placing furniture. That way, I can come back later and try a new look.
Now the fun begins. I place furniture and move it around on-screen. I can picture exactly where my new sofa is going to work best in my family room—with absolutely no worries about throwing out my back!
I begin by dragging items from the box on the left to populate my room with furniture I won’t be replacing: the TV armoire, end tables and coffee table. Next, I try different types and sizes of sofas to see what looks best in the space with my other furniture. Since I know I won’t be choosing a sleeper sofa, I know I don’t need to leave space in my room to pull the mattress out. As I continue, I place several configurations of a sectional, an idea that appeals to me. But the traffic patterns aren’t good, so I “x” the sectional off my sofa shopping list.
I’m back to considering a standard sofa, with a loveseat perhaps? Back online, I slide a sofa and loveseat around the room. I try them against a wall, with the sofa facing the fireplace, with the sofa in front of the sliding glass door—and at an angle. With my mouse on the sofa, I click the “i” button, which allows me to change the sofa length. I’ve been using 96 inches; I trim the sofa to 80 inches. I decide this shorter sofa, with a loveseat, works better in my space, but I don’t yet rule out a larger one.
As I narrow my search, I move on to color. What hue do I want my new sofa to be?
Step 4: Generate Color Ideas
Neutral has always been my middle name when it comes to decorating. This time, I’ve decided to be bold. Along with a new sofa, I’m going to be making a few other changes to my family room, such as adding a new color scheme. A new sofa calls for a new look, after all.
Using the Color Visualizer, I click in the top right corner to open a palette of 10 living room options. I pick one and start applying color palettes to the walls. My walls are paneled, and I want to lighten the room by painting them. I try a light sage green, with a darker green on the woodwork and mantel. Next, I try varying shades of carpet and an area rug over hardwoods. The Color Visualizer makes it easy for me to see which colors work well together—and which seem to fight each other. Now that I have an idea of the colors I’m going to use in redecorating my room, I have a better idea of what color I want in my sofa.
Step 5: Plan My Shopping Trip
I’ll admit it, I’ve felt intimidated shopping at home furnishings stores in the past. This time, however, I have a clear idea of what I’m looking for, which will allow store sales associates to better help me find what I want. In addition, there are a ton of resources in HomeFurnishings.com’s “Shop Smart” section that have prepared me for my shopping trip. These Shop Smart articles helped me decide what type of furnishings store I want to visit, how to find the best quality sofa, whether I should buy the sofa on credit, how to take advantage of in-store design services, whether I should buy in-stock or special order, and much more. With this knowledge I’m now ready to hit the stores. But which ones?
Step 6: Find Retailers in My Area
Back at HomeFurnishings.com, I click on “Where to Shop,” punch in my ZIP code and up pops a list of certified furniture retailers in my area. (I’ve seen this box before in the top right corner of all HomeFurnishings.com pages.)
I know that I want a Certified Retailer because Certified Retailers all have written consumer “rights” and guarantee policies, a clear dispute resolution vehicle and are members of either the Better Business Bureau or a local retail merchant association.
I click on one of the retailers listed, and that opens a new page with general information about the store and a link that allows me to click through to the retailer’s website. I find sofas I like and even see measurements of sofas on some websites. However, I know I want to shop in a home furnishings store versus online, because I want to be able to sit on the sofas and touch the fabric before buying, so I print the contact information for four local retailers after viewing their online sites.
Step 7: Go Shopping
Armed with a printout of my floor plan, my tentative color scheme (cream, sage green or red) and the sofa styles I like, I begin shopping.
My first stop is a bust. Everything I like in Store 1 is a neutral beige or brown—and I really do want to go bolder in color. When the salesperson tells me the store does not special-order sofas, that’s my exit cue.
On to Store 2. Wow! I see many options, the salesperson is knowledgeable and helpful, and they can special-order if I want a different fabric. I browse the aisles and settle on two living room groups. One is a transitional style of sofa, with a red chenille fabric. It would work well with my new color scheme. I like the rolled arms and the look of the sofa. However, the fabric is a rayon blend, which gives me pause when I think of stains from my teenagers and pets. On to the next option: a sofa in a tough microfiber fabric with two recliners, one on each end of the sofa. It’s (ahem) neutral beige, but I can order it in a more vibrant color—garnet. The salesperson agrees with me that microfiber is more resistant to household wear, but she doesn’t want me to be boxed into that choice. She notes that I can buy a reasonably priced protection program for any fabric I choose.
I head to Store 3, where I find myself ogling a red, cream and sage green striped sofa with accent pillows. It’s casual but has a polished look. Pretty quickly, however, I decide this type of sofa would be a better fit in my living room. It looks too sophisticated, I think, for my feet-on-the-furniture, casual family room.
At Store 4, I spy a casual, cotton slipcovered sofa in a light, bright blue—which I like, even though the color is not even a cousin to my tentative color plan. What’s appealing? The fabric is a cotton twill, and I can pull off the entire slipcover and wash it if someone runs amok with dirty feet. Before I become too enamored, another garnet red sofa lures me away. Have I truly shed my neutral persona? This sofa has rolled arms, a loose pillow back and a casual bright style. And surprise! The chenille type fabric is a stain-resistant microfiber. I like that! The salesperson takes a bottle of water, pours it on a fabric sample and demonstrates how the water rolls off, rather than being absorbed.
Decisions, decisions. I head home with sofas cartwheeling through my head.
Step 8: And the final answer is…
Red. But which red? I’ve narrowed my choices to:
Choice 1: the garnet stationary sofa at Store 4. This is a Klaussner Home Furnishings sofa priced at about $800, with rolled arms, a loose pillow back and a microfiber fabric that looks like chenille. I like the look, but it doesn’t recline, and it's 96 inches long—longer than I really want.
Choice 2: the reclining sofa at Store 2. This sofa by Lane Home Furnishings is available via special order in a garnet microfiber, priced at about $1,000. It is 80 inches long, my preferred length, and a loveseat is available.
Which will it be? The reclining Lane sofa wins. My whole family can enjoy being couch potatoes on the sofa and matching loveseat, snuggled in recliners as we watch movies on a Saturday night. With its durable microfiber cover, it should withstand the wear and tear of our household—two teenagers still at home, plus two cats and a dog—and it will be something I will enjoy showing off to guests. Using HomeFurnishings.com helped me find the perfect sofa for my family and enjoy the process!